Realtors® agree to abide by a “Code of Ethics” as part of the process of becoming a Realtor. Specifically it says “Realtors® shall avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts relating to the property or the transaction”. Let’s face it, we (Realtors®) are regularly involved in what is the largest financial transaction that a person has ever been a part of, and to quote Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” When I consult with a potential seller, I sit with them, show them how much I believe their house will sell for, and explain to them why they should hire me to sell their house, instead of the next agent they interview. Then, (sometimes) another agent makes an outrageous promise, that they either can’t keep, or don’t put in writing (or both), and that agent get’s hired, instead of me, because of that promise.
As an example, I had a seller once tell me that the reason he signed with “Jill” was because she told him she could sell it
for about 20% more than research showed it was worth, and she agreed to prove it by making the contract good for only 30 days. At first glance I was impressed with her approach; basically, she was saying “if I can’t deliver what I promise, quickly, you are free to hire someone else”. The reason I was impressed with that is because I offer my clients similar promises (actually mine can fire me any time if they are not happy because I am not delivering what I promise). However, “Jill” did not put her promise in writing. The reason I know this is that the seller invited me to call him in 31 days and if the house had not sold, he would hire me. He believed that the information I gave him about marketing and the value of the property, made a lot of sense, but he would be a fool to pass up “Jill’s” offer to get 20% more in only 30 days. 31 days later, I called the seller as I promised. As it turned out, the house was still listed with “Jill”. I asked if he had signed an extension with “Jill”. He told me he had not heard from “Jill” since signing the paperwork (which is a horrible practice of many agents) and that he did not know why it was still listed. He sent me a copy of the agreement he had with Jill so I could tell him what it said – it said he had hired her for a year and there was nothing that allowed him to get out of it! I wished him luck and hung up the phone (because I am not allowed to continue to speak with him if he is actively under contract with another agent).
I seem to run up against this kind of agent a few times every year. Is it all of them? No way! Many of them take their code
of ethics very seriously. Unfortunately, it’s those that lie, or exaggerate that often end up getting a listing that they have no business taking. So how do you avoid those people (and what do you do if one of them already duped you)?
If you have already been duped, and you believe that person was unethical, you have the opportunity file a complaint against them with the Nevada Real Estate Division here; http://www.red.state.nv.us/compliance.htm
The RED takes these complaints very seriously.
If you just want to hire someone who will sell your house quickly, for top dollar, and not lie, deceive or mislead you along the way, you could hire me – but, let’s pretend that I am unavailable. What questions can you ask when interviewing an agent to ensure you are hiring the kind of agent that will look out for your best interests?
1. Ask the agent for references/testimonials. They should have plenty (maybe online). They should also have at least a few of those clients who wrote the testimonials that are also willing to be contacted to verify the testimonial (you probably have to ask for that separately). And yes, you should verify no less than 3 of them.
2. Ask the agent to put a provision in the contract that allows you to fire them any time you feel they are not doing their job. Most agents will not do this. They will tell you it costs a lot of money to list your house and that provision is not fair. They are correct. It is also not fair to force someone to continue to employ you when you are operating at a substandard level. Then, BEFORE you sign the contract, ask them to show you specifically where it says that.
3. Ask them how often they intend to contact you during the process. If you don’t like the answer they give, have them make a better commitment (even write it in the contract), and if they don’t stick to it, you can rely on #2 and fire them. Seriously. This is a big deal and you have the right to regular communication. If they don’t have any showings to report, they should at least be reporting what steps they are taking to get you showings and get your house sold.
4. Ask them their policy about photos and video. You probably don’t realize this, but buyer’s have become sophisticated and demanding consumers. Buyers expect to see no less than 25 photos and 83% of buyer’s last year said that they want to see video, yet less than 5% of agents are providing video.
Is that everything you should be concerned about when you put your house up for sale? No, it’s the big stuff though, and #2 will pretty much help you with the rest.